Every week, The WorldPost asks an expert to shed light on a topic driving headlines around the world. We recently spoke with photographer Marcus Bleasdale about his work in the Central African Republic.
Pope Francis brought his appeal for peace into a war zone last weekend when he visited the Central African Republic, a country torn apart by violence between Muslim and Christian militias.
Muslims and Christians alike celebrated the pope’s visit. Once he left, however, violence returned. A Muslim man was found dead on Tuesday after he tried to leave a Muslim enclave encircled by the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia in the capital of Bangui. Two days later, rebels from the mainly Muslim Seleka movement killed eight civilians at a camp for displaced people near the central town of Bambari.
Fighting erupted in the Central African Republic in 2013 when the Seleka seized control of the government, and the anti-Balaka militias emerged to fight their brutal rule. The violence quickly spun out of control as atrocities by both militias against civilians mounted, leaving at least 5,000 people dead and nearly 1 million displaced. The conflict has been simmering since a peace deal was signed last July. Presidential elections planned for October were postponed after violence flared again in the capital.
The WorldPost spoke to Marcus Bleasdale, an award-winning photographer who witnessed some of the most horrific days of the conflict. He and Human Rights Watch’s director of emergencies, Peter Bouckaert, traveled through the war-ravaged country, collecting testimonies and images published by Human Rights Watch, National Geographic and Foreign Policy magazine. A photo book of his work, The Unravelling: Central African Republic, with essays by Bouckaert and a foreword by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, was published last month.
JUBA, South Sudan — When South Sudan’s bloody civil war broke out in December 2013, tens of thousands of people fled for their lives to United Nations peacekeeping bases around the country. A year and a half later, the violence shows no sign of letting up and 130,000 people are still living under U.N. protection.
In the capital city of Juba alone, more than 34,000 people are sheltering under the watch of U.N. peacekeepers. Many fled homes both near and far during the first wave of killings 18 months ago, and have been too afraid to leave the base since. “We saw the same things as happened in Rwanda,” Majok Yieng, a 43-year-old youth coordinator in the camp, told The WorldPost. “Soldiers went house to house killing people.” Other residents of the camp have arrived more recently, bringing tales of fresh horrors with them.
Over the months, small businesses have sprung up along the camp’s dusty alleys — grocery stores, small vegetable plots, a launderette, a cafe and a solar tent to charge cell phones. Yet difficulties abound in the crowded camp.
“We are living in such small shelters, while the sun is burning down on us and there is not enough water,” Rebecca Nyayual, 38, told The WorldPost. “The situation in the camp is very bad, and I don’t have much hope for the future,” she said.
Instead of building peace, UNMISS has now been tasked with protecting people from South Sudan’s brutal war, which has left tens of thousands dead and displaced over 2 million people.
The initial U.N. bases, now called Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites, quickly became overcrowded. During last year’s rainy season, several bases turned into unsanitary swamps. The U.N. had to move thousands of civilians to new sites around the country over the past year.
Huff Post Black Voices
As the world grapples with Nelson Mandela’s death, stunning tributes to the former South African president have poured in from around the planet.
The photos of Mandela in his last days are a stark contrast to the young rebel from decades ago, or even the wise leader who spent 27 years in prison. But recently released images of the revered leader at what was ultimately one of his last photo shoots, provide an incredible look at the icon and a beautiful portrait of Madiba in his final days, forever frozen in time.
In 2011, the South African leader participated in a photographic and film series profiling the country’s notable men and women by famed African photographer, Adrian Stiern, titled “21 Icons”. The shoot took place at Mandela’s childhood home in the country’s Eastern Cape Province.
“We were very nervous,” Stiern said. “We had the lights set up, Madiba came down and he was so good natured, so good humored. He made the crew feel at ease, and I think that any nerves that we felt were gone. He could see that we were very emotional, and he helped us through the shoot, and it’s something obviously that I’ll be eternally grateful for.”
Stiern said the experience was both lighthearted and deeply emotional, as Mandela reflected on his role in South Africa’s history and shared his candid thoughts after seeing a photo of F.W. de Klerk, the country’s last apartheid president, that was also being featured in the series.
“When Madiba saw de Klerk — who was the last apartheid president and released Nelson Mandela — he stopped and choked up,” Stiern said. “It was very emotional because Nelson Mandela is an old man, he doesn’t talk much, he conserves his energy… and for him to see a photo, for that to spark a memory and talk to the entire room — that’s really what kicked off the emotion for us.”
The images are a beautiful portrayal of the legendary leader, capturing both his majestic aura and his humble spirit simultaneously.
Summer Reading Sign Up
Sign up has begun for Summer Reading at your Milwaukee Public Library! Children ages 0-12 can participate by reading or having books read to them. Log your hours and earn prizes! Receive a yard sign to let the city know you are a Super Reader and are reading to defeat Dr. Brain Drain. Earn food coupons, free admission to fun places around town, and a free book for your home library. Collect prizes beginning June 10.Young adults ages 13-18 can participate in the teen summer reading program “Put Your Face in a Book.”
Free Digital Photography Classes
Are you curious about digital photography? Join us for Say Cheese! to take photographs of the library and learn how to capture terrific images, edit and enhance photos and manage your collection of digital photos. Registration is required; call 414.286.3011 or register online at www.mpl.org. Class is offered at several Milwaukee Public Libraries in June.
Download Free Music with Freegal
Through MPL’s Freegal service, cardholders can visit the library’s website at www.mpl.org, click on the Freegal music icon (https://mpl.freegalmusic. com/, type in their library card number and MPL Personal Identification Number (PIN) and download up to three songs a week directly to their computer, whether it is a Mac or PC. The songs can then be transferred to an MP3 player, such as an iPod or Smartphone. Songs may be downloaded into iTunes libraries. Once the songs are downloaded, they can be kept indefinitely since they don’t have to be returned. The service includes thousands of artists and hundreds of thousands of songs from Sony Music Entertainment.
Photographer Alejandro Chaskielberg captures villagers in the northwest region of Kenya at night. With the use of strobe lighting and long exposure times the end result is striking. His work is among many artists that want to show Africa in a different “light”.
Written by Stephanie Baptist
The work of visual artist Namsa Leuba is not easily definable. A conceptual master, Leuba examines themes of construction and deconstruction, through the use of unidentifiable locations, props, unique colours or configurations that may not have a lucid order. Leuba’s technique can be described as ‘elemental compositing’, as she dissembles cultural paradigms and re-builds them through staged interventions. As of late, her focus has been on African identity as viewed through a Western lens. The series Ya Kala Ben involved research of cultural practices and rituals from the region of Conakry, Guinea in West Africa. Defined as a ‘crossed look’ this provocative body of images presents masqueraded ceremonies, exorcism practices as well as local acrobats whose flexible bodies are contorted into unique forms.
The guarded distance between Leuba and her reinterpretation of ceremonial objects and practice, result in probing and confrontational dialogue. Visually pleasing, her colour palette consists of de-saturated hues and classical composition. As the viewer we are aware that we occupy an exploitative space. We are less astutely aware that she has art directed each many of the images, with local models wearing the unique costumes or artifacts.
I have studied ritual artifacts common to the cosmology of Guineans; statuettes that are part of a ceremonial structure. They are from another world, they are the roots of the living. Thereby, I sought to touch the untouchable. – Namsa Leuba
Her formative process encourages a conversation around that which is ‘normal’ in one culture, and that which becomes decidedly ‘the other’ as viewed by the West. Of dual ancestry, she is half Swiss and half Guinean, Leuba’s interpretations seem to mitigate her own experiences and delineate stereotypical projections often formulated from a Western perspective. In a Guinean framework, contextualising that which is invisible and or ‘cosmological symbols of a community, who traditionally have signification when used as part of rituals’ through human intervention and from a Westernized aesthetic was deemed a sacrilegious act.
The V.U.C.A. magazine, a point of departure for Leuba, explores architecture, design and interiors based on the theme of Ethno vs. Modern. A collaborative project between Leuba and Hugo Hoppman a graphic designer, that became the pair’s final graduate project for ECAL University. According to Leuba, V.U.C.A. is derived from a military term describing a certain situation or object that is “Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous” and “became an important part to the direction of the project.” Hoppman, also created a unique sans-serif typeface named “V.U.C.A. Grotesque” as the terminology reflected both the concept and typeface for the magazine. The magazine presents composition, characteristics and unique culture through observations, photography as well as interviews.
A young photographer, the work of Namsa Leuba is both critically seasoned and refreshingly complex. Her work calls to mind that of contemporary artist Viviane Sassen for her ability to hover between that which is documentary and that which is composed. Like Sassen, Leuba’s enigmatic work centers on not just preconceived notions of Africa, from a Western view but the aesthetics of abstract configuration.
Namsa Leuba was born to a Guinean mother and an Helvetian father. She grew up on the shores of Neuchatel’s lake in Switzerland. In 2011, Leuba graduated from ECAL/University of art and design Lausanne, with a Bachelor in Photography. She was awarded the ECAL prize for her photographic work. In 2012 she received the Hyères Photo Global Prize of a one-year scholarship at the School of Visual Art in New York City.
Recent exhibitions include ”Last and First Men. Towards a New Anthropology” which was on view at the Armsden in London, from 13 -24 of June 2012.